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Tang Ying (1682-1756)

In 1728, Tang Ying (xi Jungong, hao Woji laoren) was appointed 'yuanwailang' of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Comissioner) and assigned as Superintendent of the Imperial porcelain works in Jingdezhen in which position he remained for over two decades, until he presented a memorial to the emperor for resignation.

Under his direction that lasted more than two decades the porcelain made in Jingdezhen reached an unprecedented level both in the 'styles of the ancients' and in innovation and techniques, which had far reaching influence on porcelain making both in China and abroad.

Tang Ying came from Shenyang in northeast China, and was a Manchu member of the Plain White Banner of the Han army. He was appointed wailang (an ancient official title) of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and a mid-rank officer, overlooking the Huai Pass, Jiujiang Pass, and Yue customs house and porcelain production. He is famed for his painting, poetry, playwright, drawing, calligraphy, seal carving as well as porcelain making.

Tang Ying was also a ceramic artist. He participated in porcelain making and created many works handed down to posterity. Besides as Tang Ying and Jungong, he signed his works as Jungong Shi, Shuzi, Woji, the old man (laoren) Woji, Retired Scholar Taocheng, Retired Scholar Muzhai, Potter, and Porcelain Making Supervisor.

His personal works includes 'seal character brush holder' and 'running hand brush holder', both china ink-painting on white ground, Dong celadon glazed plaque of official script 'Zhuwengong Instructions', fruit plate in famille rose, underglaze blue gu with lotus design, which have been collected in either the Palace Museum, or Shanghai Museum, or the Chinese History Museum. The manuscript 'The Order of Porcelain-making (Twenty Illustrations of the Manufacture of Porcelain)', compiled during his supervision after a systematic observation and research of porcelain making in Jingdezhen, remains an important document regarding porcelain production in Jingdezhen during the Qing Dynasty.

Twenty-three of his poems were included in 'Collections of Songs during the Reign of Kangxi'; many of his elegant calligraphy and painting were preserved in the Palace Museum; and his poems were collected as 'Potters Thoughts'.

Qing porcelain reached its peak during the Qianlong period thanks to the service of Tang Ying, the most famous Porcelain Superintendent ever sent to Jingdezhen by the Imperial Court. He worked there for a total of twenty years during which the Imperial workshop carried his name in 1728-56, as Tangyao, the Tang ware.

Tang Ying was a learned Mandarin. It is said that he was so devoted to his work that he lived, ate and slept with the potters for the first three years after he arrived in Jingdezhen to really learn and understand porcelain. He treated worthy men with courtesy, learned with an open mind, assiduously studied porcelain making technology, and devoted to its summing-up and reform. He made everlasting contribution to Jingdezhen porcelain and its development during the reign of Yongzheng (1722-1736) of the Qing Dynasty. Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795) was a keen porcelain man himself and it was his fate and fortune to have Tang Ying in his service during the first decades of his reign, to produce for him the dazzling Qianlong Porcelains that we see today.

No porcelain after this period lacks at least some shade of Tang Ying's work.

See also on the Gotheborg main site: Twenty Illustrations of the Manufacture of Porcelain, By Tang Ying 1745

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